Birds 1: White-Sliced Chicken (白片雞)

Good white-sliced chicken embodies the pure flavours of the unadulterated stocks used by the ancients. Order this simple dish when one happens to dine at a village inn too busy to cook more involved dishes. When preparing this dish do not use too much water.


Chicken breast that look good enough to be served white-sliced. (Credit: Amy Stephenson)

In a world concerned with indulgence and excess, one too often forgets that even the simplest things can bring much joy. Though it is true that thick broths and rich soups can be incredibly satisfying, and the bold flavours from a loud dish exhilarating, one cannot deny that sometimes a meal consisting of white rice, blanched mustards, and tofu can nevertheless be remarkably refreshing and uplifting. In such a simply meal, a dish of white-sliced chicken would not be out-of-place.

Despite this simplicity, white-sliced chicken is actually a surprisingly “deep” food. Its subtle flavours need focus and presence in the moment to appreciate. But once you perceive them, the taste is pleasant and gentle, its texture succulent and fine, with an ever so slight meaty stench. One could say it’s gustatory version of the rock garden, a meditation aid to help put things into perspective and reveal things hidden in plain sight. Eating it, one begins to understand what the best from various cuisines can do for people; gently nourishing their bodies, comforting their souls, and bringing delight to their lives.

Imagine all of this from a seemingly unremarkable and unpretentious lump of plain cooked flesh.


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